Russia sets tougher penalties for trafficking endangered animals

Aug 12, 2013
Russia has increased penalties for trafficking endangered species products like those from Amur tigers like this one. Credit: Vladimir Filonov/WWF-Canon

Russia's State Duma has approved legislative amendments that mean tougher punishments for poaching and trafficking of rare species will come into force. The draft law was submitted by President Putin in March 2013 following a meeting with WWF Russia CEO, Dr. Igor Chestin in August 2012.

It means anyone found smuggling "endangered species" can be prosecuted under criminal law. Under previous legislation, only those caught smuggling rare animals worth more than 1 million roubles (US$30,000) could be prosecuted under criminal law—but Russian legislation had no means to determine the value of animals in , making it almost impossible to initiate a criminal investigation.

However, this March, the government increased the compensation due from anyone convicted of killing or taking from the and leopards and other endangered species, including certain birds of prey, to RUB1.1 million (US$35,000), a move that has now been endorsed through a new bill by the State Duma.

"The new bill establishes a mechanism to close the existing loophole in Russian legislation," said Chestin. "Now, regardless of the value or volume of the goods, any smuggler caught with parts of a tiger or other valuable species will be prosecuted under criminal law and potentially face far more serious consequences. We've been working on this for almost 15 years and finally, with support of the president and his chief of staff, Sergey Ivanov, the law is in place."

Species classified as "endangered" include the Amur tiger, Amur leopard, polar bear and .

This Amur leopard skin was discovered in a car in Russia. Credit: WWF-Russia / S. Aramilev

In 2012, a review of Russian wildlife legislation carried out by TRAFFIC and WWF proposed amendments to Russian federal law that would tighten the penalties for and trafficking of and their derivatives and highlighted the loophole that had allowed and traffickers to get away with insignificant fines.

"While this latest improvement to Russian legislation is warmly welcomed, its enforcement becomes of utmost importance," said TRAFFIC's Alexey Vaisman, who helped in the legislative review.

"The number of rangers and game inspectors has fallen dramatically in recent years and needs to be increased, and while we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel, institutional support is needed to see the light of day."

Explore further: Togo police seize 700 kilos of ivory

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

First camera trap photos of rare leopard in China

Apr 25, 2012

The first-known camera trap photos of an Amur leopard in China have recently been taken by protected area staff in Hunchun Amur Tiger National Nature Reserve in Jilin Province according to the Wildlife Conservation ...

Togo police seize 700 kilos of ivory

Aug 09, 2013

Police in Togo have seized 700 kilogrammes (1,540 pounds) of ivory in the capital city of Lome, the government told AFP on Thursday.

Recommended for you

Where have all the swallows gone?

16 hours ago

Extinction: the permanent loss of a species. It is deeply troubling—and scientists and birdwatchers are ringing the alarm about a bird species that only a few decades ago was widespread and very common.

Wildlife hospitals save 16,000 animals in four years

18 hours ago

Birds are the most commonly rescued wildlife in Queensland, with the laughing kookaburra among our hardiest species, according to new research from The University of Queensland's Gatton Campus.

User comments : 0